Green and white confetti flies in celebration of the Eagles win at the end of Super Bowl LII on Sunday, Feb. 4 at U.S. Bank Stadium Minneapolis, Minnesota. Eddy Encinas, ’20, attended the game with his family. (Courtesy of Eddy Encinas)

Year of the (under)dog: Lehigh students share Super Bowl LII experiences


A sub-par team has a standout season, only to be plagued by a star player’s season-ending injury.

Against all odds, the team makes it to the final and goes up against the defending champs, a team that has been to the most championship games and is led by arguably the greatest quarterback of all time.

It’s a storybook ending. The story of the underdog.  

The plot of Super Bowl LII sounds like a movie.

Throughout football history, the Philadelphia Eagles have only made two Super Bowl appearances, in 1981 when they were favored to win by three points over the Oakland Raiders and in 2005 when they were the seven-point underdogs to the New England Patriots. Both appearances resulted in a loss for Philadelphia.

After the Eagles won the NFC Championship game in January, they were slated to once again face the Patriots in Minneapolis in the 2018 Super Bowl. Eagles fans everywhere prepared for what could be their first Super Bowl win.

Lehigh senior Alex Rigberg said his father, a Philadelphia native, is the reason he became an Eagles fan.

“When (the Eagles) won the NFC Championship game, my dad called me and said, ‘I’m going to figure out a way to get tickets,'” Rigberg said.

The pair make it a point to go to at least one Eagles game each year. While they weren’t able to attend any regular season games, they managed to land a pair of tickets to this year’s Super Bowl.

Sophomore Eddy Encinas has a similar tradition with his family but also wasn’t able to attend an Eagles game during the regular season. As a family of Eagles fans, the Encinas family bought their plane tickets to Minnesota while watching the NFC Championship game.

“We bought our plane tickets before they won the game because we knew (buying them afterward) was going to be tough,” Encinas said. “Once they won, we looked into buying (game) tickets. We definitely had some faith. We figured if we had a shot, we were going to take it.”

Both families made it to the U.S. Bank Stadium. Rigberg and Encinas said every fan sitting around them at the stadium was an Eagles supporter, cheering on the underdogs.

“Walking around the stadium, it was all Eagles fans and chants,” Encinas said. “It just felt like a home game. It felt very comfortable.”

Rigberg said while fans were hopeful the Eagles were going to pull off the win, the game was too close for comfort. It was not going to be easy.

There was a moment, however, when Rigberg said the anxiety withered away.

When the ball hit the ground after the Patriots’ final Hail Mary attempt, Rigberg said there was a long pause-as if the crowd was trying to comprehend what had just happened. He said while in reality the pause was only a few seconds long, it felt like minutes of silence, realization and disbelief before the pandemonium ensued.

“It was like people were thinking, ‘The game is over. The Eagles have more points. We actually did it. I think they just won the Super Bowl,'” Rigberg said. “Then, everyone was going crazy. There were so many Eagles chants and fight songs. I was hugging strangers.”

Rigberg said he FaceTimed his grandfather, a lifelong Eagles fan, from the stadium. He said his family members have been waiting for an Eagles win their entire lives, and one of the coolest parts of the game was watching with his dad because Rigberg knew how much the win meant to him.

Eagles fans who were not able to buy tickets to the Super Bowl showed their support in other ways. An estimated 103.4 million people tuned in to watch the game.

Senior Danny Norris watched from an apartment at Temple University and celebrated the victory on Broad Street in Philadelphia.

“As a lifelong Eagles fan, I thought the best place to watch the Super Bowl would be in Philadelphia,” Norris said. “After the win, it was nuts, and we went crazy. We ran out into the streets, and there were a bunch of people jumping on cars, running in the streets and setting off fireworks. Everyone was just really happy. I probably high-fived over a thousand people and heard (Meek Mill’s) ‘Dreams and Nightmares’ more than I have heard it in my whole life combined.”

Whether fans were watching the game from stands of the U.S. Bank Stadium or from couches in front of a television screen, the Philadelphia Eagles’ first Super Bowl win will go down in history as a story of the underdogs.

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